Friday, August 5, 2011
While the most people were caught up in the plunge of the stock markets yesterday Leslie and I were in financial-chaos-oblivion as we headed to our Part I destination on Day Three of our Great American Road Trip. While I was getting text messages from a service I subscribe to informing me that mortgage rates were doing well (blatant advertising, for more mortgage news check in frequently at www.DennisCSmith.com/myblog If you wish to help subsidize this trip and live in California call me to assist you with the purchase of your next home or to refinance your current mortgage---end advertising), it wasn't until a reporter for the Orange County Register emailed me to get my reaction to the Dow Jones crashing over 500 points that I was aware of the sell off. Being transported through our nation's Corn Belt with a beautiful driving companion, multiple CDs and satellite radio enables the cocoon effect from the outside news that we, or I, usually spend so much of my day following and comment upon.
Back to the trip. Before going to sleep Wednesday night we plotted our course for Camp Birchwood, destination for Part I of the trip. Deciding that going to Omaha would add too many miles we cut northeast about 90 miles east of our starting point of Gothenberg and then north towards Fargo, North Dakota. Once in Fargo we would cross into Minnesota and begin to work our way into the deep woods and farmland of the state. This route would take us off major interstates for much of the journey and on two lane state routes through small towns and farmland. Pretty much what I like to see on a trip.
Ever since we left California all the roads, especially the interstates, have been in great shape. Most of the roads are in much better shape than almost any of highways and byways of the Golden State and considering the states we have gone through, Nevada, Utah, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and that each has baking sun, freezing rain, snow, sleet, hail, to contend with one needs ponder why it is these states have such better road maintenance than California, well one does if one is a resident and tax payer of California like I am. Not to dwell or ponder this for long but consider where our state budget goes and who it supports next time you realign your Honda Pilot on your way to work.
Our progress on this road trip has been delayed somewhat by construction projects on every highway we have been on since leaving Nevada. One aspect of the freezing rain and snow is that the window for road maintenance is rather small, pretty much April to October.
Back to the trip. Driving through the rolling hills of Nebraska--yes hills and plenty of them--we were surrounded by miles and miles of corn interspersed with rotated crops of alfalfa. Stands of trees, silos, barns and homesteads dotted the landscape surrounded by the lush green with yellow tops of corn. The small towns we passed through were spotlessly clean, and many laying claim to their local heros or legends. For Nebraska we passed through Johnny Carson's hometown of Norfolk, Nebraska, other towns would have signs stating Home of .... and I would recognize the name of a University of Nebraska Cornhusker. I gave a little spit and a curse when we were told we were on the Tom Osborne Highway (for those who do not know Osborne was coach of the Huskers for many years and made a good habit of beating the much beloved, very respected and thoruoughly supported Sooners of the University of Oklahoma).
Reaching South Dakota we made a stop in Yankton (home of Tom Brokaw) and saw some guys getting their Harleys ready. I asked them if they were headed west and they assured me they were. West being Sturgess, gathering point for thousands and thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts (let's face it many are not "bikers" but business men and women with a hobby) for a week. A week that starts on Friday August 5th one of our Yankton bikers thought (they looked like bikers not insurance salesmen).
"Leslie we might want to check on our stop at Mount Rushmore, the Sturgess Rally is going on."
"Where is Sturgess?"
"Somewhere west of here."
Sturgess is in western South Dakota, above Rapid City, which is just above Mount Rushmore. If outdoor retailers could sell out hotels in Salt Lake City I was thinking thousands of bikers could sell our Rapid City, South Dakota. Leslie fired up my laptop and started working the phone and the AAA website before securing a non-refundable room for Sunday night in Mount Rushmore. Kids better be ready for a seven hundred mile day.
Back to the road. South Dakota was filled with more corn but the hills flattened out and the road got a lot straighter. Nothing against South Dakota in the eastern part of the state but Nebraska has you beat from a view stand point. Though this is not to say the vistas were not beautiful with the miles of fields, woods peppering the landscape and rivers and streams winding through them all.
We hit Fargo at rush hour. Rush hour for Fargo being akin to about two in the afternoon on our local freeway with the lanes about seventy-five percent full. Clearing Fargo without even knowing it we entered Minnesota, Land of 10,000 lakes. Meandering through the woods with sudden breaks in the trees revealing a large, or small, lake, or perhaps fields with horses or cattle, we were on county roads and after cruising at a good clip--let's say a bit above the posted limits--for 2000 miles the last 100 was at a relative crawl. All the more so because we were so close to our destination.
At 7:30 we finally came to the end of the quarter mile gravel drive and arrived at Camp Birchwood. Our girls home for the past eleven days and ours for the next three.
Part I complete, time for some rest, fun at camp sailing, swimming, and other activities before we depart very early Sunday morning to make our non-refundable reservation at Mount Rushmore.
(Sorry for the crummy picture quality, something up with the Blackberry camera that makes stuff blurry than it needs to be).
Here is the path Leslie and I take from our cabin next door to camp to get to camp for our meals, activities and haning out. At the top is my view this morning after a sail as I do some work before lunch. Nice office!